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Series Preview: Orioles come to the Trop

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees

Let’s start with the good news.

The upcoming series against the Orioles can’t be worse than the recently completed series against the Rangers. Only way to go is up!

Yes, our Tampa Bay Rays come into this series off a disappointing [ed. note: soul-crushing] sweep by the Texas Rangers. The Orioles come after losing two of three in a series against the Houston Astros.

The Matchups:

Monday 7:10 PM: Kevin Gausman vs Blake Snell
Tuesday 7:10 PM: Wade Miley vs Jacob Faria
Wednesday 12:10 PM: Ubaldo Jimenez vs Alex Cobb

If Dennis Eckersley saw the stats of the Baltimore rotation it would definitely cause him to say “Yuck!”

The Orioles starting rotation has an ERA of 5.98 and has a 5.49 FIP. They combine a 17.9% strikeout rate with a 9.9% walk rate. That usually doesn’t lead to good results.

Kevin Gausman hasn’t seen his successful 2016 transfer to 2017. His ERA is up 2.50 to 6.11. FIP isn’t much better at 5.05. He gets a fair amount of strikeouts, but walks almost 10%. This year left handed batters have hit .311/.402/.508 and put up a .390 wOBA. In his last start he allowed one run in six innings to the Texas Rangers. At the beginning of July he held the Rays scoreless for seven innings.

Wade Miley has a 5.58 ERA and 5.36 FIP. He has struck out 18.8%, but has an elevated 12.8% walk rate. The left-handed Miley has been lit up by opposing right handed bats to the tune of .317/.403/.501 and a .387 wOBA. He has done a really great job neutralizing left handed bats with a .200/.333/.300 line and .292 wOBA. In his last start he gave up five runs in five innings to the Rangers. In April he held the Rays to two runs in seven innings.

Ubaldo Jimenez is putting up the worst season of his career. His 7.19 ERA and 6.02 FIP is easily the worst of his career that includes spending four years with the Rockies. He combines a moderate 18.7% strikeout rate and 10.4% walk rate. In his last start the Astros put up six runs in 5.1 innings. In two starts against the Rays this year they combined to score 12 runs in 5.2 innings (3.1 and 2.1 innings outings). Left handed batters have teed off with a .297/.381/.665 line and .428 wOBA.

The Orioles bullpen is the best part of the team

Looking at the Orioles rotation, it is no surprise that their bullpen has been asked to pitch a lot of innings. They have been up to the task.

Zach Britton has spent a large part of the season injured. He’s now back and although he hasn’t matched last year’s dominant season he still has a 2.65 ERA and 3.03 FIP. His last blown save came against the Rays on September 20, 2015.

Britton is joined by Mychal Givens, Brad Brach, and Donnie Hart. All have ERAs below 3.00 and FIPs in the mid threes.

The bullpen comes in heavily worked over the past few days. They had to use four pitchers each day. Donnie Hart and Mychal Givens have worked the last two games.

Clearly, teams hoping to defeat Baltimore need to strike early and often.

The Orioles offense has to put up big numbers for the Orioles to win

The Orioles have been scoring a lot. When your starting rotation has an ERA around 6.00 you will need to put up crooked numbers to win some games.

That said, in some ways their offense, which has been their strength in their winning-est years, has been disappointing this year. They are hitting .258/.314/.432 and have a 95 wRC+. They hit a lot of homers and strikeout a lot. Unlike the Rays they don’t walk that much.

Jonathan Schoop has been the leader of the offense. Schoop has broken out hitting .307/.353/.552 and 136 wRC+. He leads the Orioles with 21 homers.

Trey Mancini has had a great rookie season hitting .304/.350/.524 and 130 wRC+. He’s hit 15 homers. I’m a big fan, but probably am biased since he went to Winter Haven High School, which is known for producing really awesome graduates.

Manny Machado has had the most disappointing year of his career. He’s hitting .238/.310/.434 and has a 94 wRC+. He has hit 18 homers.

Mark Trumbo is also putting up a disappointing season. When the Orioles re-signed him this off-season I’m sure they expected more than .249/.311/.425 and 94 wRC+. He has 17 homers, but is coming off 47 in 2016.

Time to get back on track

Although we can’t help but think about the opportunities the Rays threw away over the past weekends, fans and players alike need to look ahead because the team remains in contention. The Rays are still tied for the second wild card, are one game off the first wild card, and 3.5 behind the division leaders.

The Rays are back to facing American League East foes. Picking up games in division is especially important since it also adds losses to your main competitors. Let’s hope they get back to winning series!